That loud crowd

Read: Leviticus 15-17, Matthew 27:1-31

A crowd is contagious. At the moment, much of the world is currently wrapped up in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Once every four years, I watch winter sports. In the past few days, I have been wrapped up in snowboarding hearing terms like chicken salad, 1440, goofy-footed, McTwist, amplitude, and pretzels. I can talk about the sport like I actually know something about it—which I don’t. But I’m part of the crowd, cheering on anyone wearing a maple leaf whether I’ve heard of them or not. I have jumped on the Olympic bandwagon just like I do every other year.

A couple of thousand years ago, there was another crowd of bandwagoners. Whether they shared the opinion or not, a group of people gathered to shout and, eventually condemn an innocent man to death.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:22-23 (NIV)

I don’t know if the crowd just happened to be there, or if they awaited the annual customary release of a prisoner, or if they’d been paid to be there by members of the Sanhedrin. But they were there. They were loud. And none of them could answer Pilate’s question—at least not loud enough to be heard. They shouted for the sake of making noise and, because they were so loud, anyone who could have been able to speak against them was either drowned out or too afraid to speak out.

Still today, there are a lot of people out there making noise for no other reason than to make noise. They like the sound someone is making, so they join in the cacophony. If asked why they make noise, they just get louder.

When Jesus was brought before Pilate, where were all the people who had welcomed him into the city just days before? Where were all the people who had been healed and set free? Jesus was not to ineffective in his ministry that there would not have been enough people to speak up for him.

But Jesus was passive. He was quiet. We should emulate him.

Yes, we should be like Jesus. As much as possible, we should strive to be just like him. But this moment, during and after his arrest, was the only time when Jesus was quiet. He knew what he had to do and he had resigned himself to it without putting up a fight. At no other point in his ministry did Jesus ever sit down and keep to himself in the face of lies.

If you know the truth that could set someone free, why not shout it out? Even if the crowd is loud, we should be louder because we know why we shout. The Book that we hold in our hands is not mere platitudes, but it is life. If you would only step out of the shadows and speak up, perhaps another person would find the courage to do the same. And then another. And another. And soon, the crowd proclaiming the truth will be louder than the crowd making noise.

Church, we should never, ever let that loud crowd shame or bully us into keeping quiet.

All of my life in ev’ry season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Brooke Ligertwood, Desert Song

Hosanna! to Crucify!

The human mind has an incredible ability to change. We can have one thought one moment and a completely different one the next. The introduction of one tiny piece of information can change our way of thinking for years to come. Even pressure from people around you can force a change in thought or opinion.

Upon Jesus entry into the city, Jerusalem was stirred. He rode in on a young donkey saddled in coats. People who knew who he was spread their own cloaks on the ground before him. They cried,

“Praise God for the Son of David!
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:9b (NLT)

What a wondrous reception for the Son of God.

But while the people in Jerusalem were celebrating the arrival of a prophet, Jesus had to have known that this same crowd would turn on him. These people that were shouting words of welcome and blessing would be the same crowd that would shout just days later, “Crucify him!”

How easily swayed man can be. There are so many who will merely shout the word of the day whether it be Hosanna! or Crucify!

It is in this analogy that we see the great importance not just of making a simple confession of faith, but of making disciples. Words can change from day to day, but when your words become your way of life, you will not be so easily swayed.

In Jerusalem, we see crowds who followed the loudest voice no matter what it said. When the voice shifts from blessing to cursing, does your own voice add to the noise or are you the one who remains steadfast shouting Hosanna! while the crowd calls Crucify!?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 25-26, Matthew 21:1-22